When judges come to sentence a person for a crime, they commonly use the rather old-fashioned word ‘remorse’. If you feel remorse for your conduct, you are sorry that you have done something wrong. It is obvious then why this inquiry is made by sentencing judges. If the criminal is not sorry for the crime, their conduct in the past looks so much more heartless, and their conduct for the future looks so much more risky. This lack of remorse will obviously increase the penalty. The ultimate threat is the gloating terrorist.
Yet, for the most part our politicians are reluctant to show remorse; many of them are incapable of it. They do not like saying ‘I am sorry.’ When did you last hear a politician say that ‘I did the wrong thing and I am sorry’? This inability to own up is just another reason why we cannot trust the bastards.
One politician claimed expenses to which most would say that she was not entitled. She repaid the money without any admission. When asked if she would apologise, she said: ‘The best form of apology is to repay the money.’
This is obviously bullshit. Covering your rear by refunding a disputed payment is a world away from saying ‘I did the wrong thing and I am sorry.’ That is a tactical retreat by a person not even admitting that she has misconducted herself. She is having an each-way bet. She is behaving with the soulless prudence of a claims manager rather than a person in a position of trust responding in good faith to a legitimate question about the discharge of her office – something that even our law requires.
The problem is a little worse for this politician. She either believes that cutting a cheque is the best form of apology or she does not. If she does not believe that, this is just another case of deliberate bullshit by a politician, a glib throwaway masking a silly lie, something cosied up by a clever political aide to fend off the press with and to maintain the Teflon status of their boss. But if she does believe – if she really and truly believes – that repaying the money is the best form of apology, then God help all of us.